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Gastronomic pilgrimages

Maister

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There is a small town, Barberton OH, I read about this morning that’s located near Akron. This small town’s claim to fame is they are the ‘fried chicken capital of the world’. I imagine there are probably a half dozen or so other places that bill themselves as such, but be that as it may, this community has managed to draw visitors from afar to sample their Serbian style fried chicken. Since it’s only about an hour south of Cleveland (we make periodic trips there to go to the clinic) I was toying with the idea of making a gastronomic pilgrimage to try one of their four famous chicken restaurants.



Have you ever intentionally travelled somewhere – at least in part – to eat some particular kind of food that location is known for? Is there a town, for instance, that can lay claim to the ‘chili destination of the world’ or ‘barbecue capital of the world’? Where would you be willing to make a gastronomic pilgrimage?
 

WSU MUP Student

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We've made pilgrimages to Toledo to go to Tony Packo's on days that we had no other reason to go to Toledo. We also make an annual pilgrimage to Frankenmuth for a family style Bavarian chicken dinner (we'll be doing that in a couple weeks).

When I am in a new town for conferences or workshops or whatever, I almost always look up their locally famous ice cream places and will make mini pilgrimages to those, but it's not like I'm going to St. Louis only to go to Ted Drewes or something.

I have a friend who drives all over the Great Lakes every weekend to various breweries for release parties or just to get a random 6-pack he cannot get in Detroit. One day I was sitting at the bar at the brewery near my house at lunch and talking to a couple next to me. They were from Texas and decided to come up to the Detroit area to do basically nothing but go to breweries and brew pubs all day.
 

Maister

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I've also considered driving down to Trigg County, KY to sample some of their country hams. http://hamfestival.com/history/
We do the Frankenmuth thing most years too. For me a culinary destination should be about getting something you can not readily get in town - that, or there is some significant qualitative difference between it and what's readily available in town. Country ham, for instance, is not the sort of thing you can get just anywhere.
 

Hink

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I do enjoy Tony Packo's. We have traveled for specific restaurants before as we discussed in the regional favorites thread (Sonny's for BBQ, Zaxby's, etc.).

We make pilgrimages to chase the Michelin restaurant high. New York City, Chicago, San Francisco area.... we try to hit one (or more if possible) a year.

Food for us is like a concert or sports event. We like the experience of going somewhere and having a unique meal that we have never had before. People will travel to see their favorite sports team in another city, but if I told you that I went to Chicago to go to Alinea you would think I am crazy. :shrug:

Also, we have gone to a number of festivals that are food based, like the BBQ Festival, etc. These are usually pretty local and do a good job of highlighting the local cuisine. Pawpaw Festival in Athens anyone?
 

Maister

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FWIW, Lexington, NC is supposed to be something of a destination for barbecue lovers, and is known for the signature 'Carolina style' bbq. A quick glance at a map tells part of the story.
 

Hink

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FWIW, Lexington, NC is supposed to be something of a destination for barbecue lovers, and is known for the signature 'Carolina style' bbq. A quick glance at a map tells part of the story.
Skylight, Scotts, and Bridges are classic. I haven't been to the Lexington BBQ, but I have heard that is also good.
 

AG74683

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Skylight, Scotts, and Bridges are classic. I haven't been to the Lexington BBQ, but I have heard that is also good.
Lexington BBQ is trash and is not worth the trip. Sorry, but that's just how it is.

For me, it's DiPasquale's in Baltimore. Still the best deli sandwich I've ever had.
 

Hink

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Lexington BBQ is trash and is not worth the trip. Sorry, but that's just how it is.
Well now I want to know what your go-to BBQ joint is for Carolina bbq.
 

AG74683

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Well now I want to know what your go-to BBQ joint is for Carolina bbq.
I'd say Speedy's in Lexington is better than Lexington BBQ. More flavor. Lefler's BBQ is pretty good too, but their smoked chicken is WAY better than the pork. That said, I just don't really like chopped pork BBQ. It's always dry to me, and has almost no flavor. The flavor comes from the sauce 99% of the time, which means the meat sucks.
 

DVD

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I've made it for NC BBQ, just some hole in the wall on the way to Tennessee with friends. Texas BBQ in San Antonio with mom, might not have been the best sample, but it was good. St. Louis style, meh, and of course KC BBQ. So far KC is the best. I still need to try some Memphis though.
 

Planit

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In Shelby (west of Charlotte) just ask where Bridges BBQ is - & they'll say Alston's or Red's? Go to Alston's and order Chopped Course Brown. Lexington BBQ is decent stuff, but now thanks to AG, I'll have to try Speedy's. Only order pork bbq, there are other places that are way better for brisket. We've traveled to several within a hour or so.

Some friends of ours (no kids) take "Beercations" twice a year. Last years trips included Portland, OR & Chicagoland area.

When we go back to Florida every year, I have to eat at 3 specific places because its the food I grew up with and can only get once a year. Going to conferences, trips and such, and look for a local place (I was taken to Skyline by coworkers when I traveled to that area when I worked for the dark side). Enjoyed the real Cajun food when I went to New Orleans, but I can't say I traveled there just for that.
 

WSU MUP Student

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I love making Hot Brown sandwiches with Thanksgiving leftovers each year. My oldest daughter and my wife both love the sandwiches but hate the name so I keep threatening to load them in to the car so we can drive to the Brown Hotel in Louisville to get an authentic one. Maybe we'll actually do that one day this summer.
 

Whose Yur Planner

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I love making Hot Brown sandwiches with Thanksgiving leftovers each year. My oldest daughter and my wife both love the sandwiches but hate the name so I keep threatening to load them in to the car so we can drive to the Brown Hotel in Louisville to get an authentic one. Maybe we'll actually do that one day this summer.
There is or used to be other places that made a pretty good hot browns as well, but I understand about going to the Brown Hotel.
 

Maister

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What / Who is this Tony Packo you speak of?
I will defer to WSU or any other eastsiders to chime in with a description, but it is a restaurant made nationally famous by Cpl. Max Klinger on M*A*S*H
 

Hink

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What / Who is this Tony Packo you speak of?
So it has kinda moved away from its history, but they make some pretty amazing chili dogs and german potato salad.



They were made famous by M.A.S.H. They also have signed hot dog buns everywhere.

As the kid of the most polish grandparents on earth who were born and raised in Toledo, OH, this was a place we went to EVERY time I saw my grandparents. The didn't have kielbasa, but Hungarian dogs were kinda the same and they liked the sides.
 

DVD

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Done Chicago and NY pizza - I'm more of a NY guy now, but I'm still good with Chicago. I do love Chicago dogs.

If you want brisket BBQ you go to Texas. NC is better with pork. If you're in KC you want burnt ends.
 

Maister

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A couple times a year, I drive an hour or so for the sole purpose of going to Price's Chicken Coop. Money can't buy happiness but it can buy a greasy box of chicken.
Do you feel the fanciness and sophistication of Price's website is reflective of the restaurant's prevailing ethos?
 

Big Owl

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Do you feel the fanciness and sophistication of Price's website is reflective of the restaurant's prevailing ethos?
I feel like the website reflects the restaurant.

prices_chicken_coup_workers_visitnc.jpg

I have been going there for the last 25 years and this picture could have been taken at any point during that time, as the place hasn't changed a bit.
 

Doohickie

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I grew up in Buffalo but never went to the Anchor Bar which is generally credited to be the home of Buffalo style chicken wings. A little over a year ago I went back home when my mom had heart surgery and made a point of finally going to the Anchor Bar. The wings were good, but chicken wings are so prolific nowadays that I'd be saying that this was a unique, sublime experience. But at least now I have a baseline with respect to other chicken wings relative to "the original."
 

Doohickie

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Here in Texas, one of the Meccas for BBQ brisket is Cooper's in Llano. It's an old school BBQ joint. It's a bit off the beaten path on the road between DFW and Austin, San Antonio & the Hill Country.

The BBQ is good, but the point of Cooper's is the experience. When entering, you walk by the open pits where the meats are being cooked, and the two or three pits closest to the door are "holding pits" that have the meat that's ready to serve. You pick up a cafeteria tray and point to the meat you want and they put it on your tray on butcher paper (no plates). Generally your eyes are bigger than your stomach and you order enough to give you meat sweats. Then you go into the actual restaurant, your meats are weighed, you get your sides and drinks and enjoy. It's a pretty primal experience.

There's a Cooper's in Fort Worth, and the BBQ is fine, but it's nowhere near the same experience of the original location in Llano.
 

Doohickie

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If you don't go through Llano, another option is to go through Marble Falls and stop at the Bluebonnet Cafe, which is famous for their pies.

Then there's the Czech Stop in West, Texas, a bit north of Waco, that is famous for its kolaches.

There are several "pilgrimage" or "destination" places on the back roads between DFW and central Texas... Cooper's, Bluebonnet and Czech Stop are the few that spring to mind.
 

WSU MUP Student

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I have to go down to Charlotte for a few days in May. It won't be a food-specific pilgrimage but now I want to go to Price's while I am there! When I was in Atlanta a couple years ago I made sure to go out of my way to check out Mary Mac's Tea Room. That's definitely right up there among the best fried chicken I've ever had.



________________________________________

I do make a pilgrimage every other year that is not food related, but clothing related. Every other summer I make a trip to Buffalo, NY to go to O'Connell's Clothing which is probably the best trad menswear store in the country. If you're ever in the area I highly recommend checking it out, even if you're not a clotheshorse. One of my favorite things about the store is large selection of deadstock clothing from the '60s, particularly the loud madras cotton sportcoats and trousers or wide lapel striped rowing blazer.
 

mendelman

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We no longer have to drive 2+ hours to go to a Culver's.

One has just opened in Strongsville, OH, which is about 10 miles north of me.
 

WSU MUP Student

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If you're in Atlanta, The Varsity is ALWAYS a good bet.
I went there too. It was actually their 90th birthday the day that I went. I was in my hotel room watching the morning news before my conferences and they were broadcasting from the downtown location. I looked it up and saw it wasn't far from my hotel so I skipped the rubber chicken from the hotel meal and made a special trip over there for lunch.
 

RandomPlanner

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I've taken friends to Buffalo to eat at both Duff's and the Anchor Bar to let my friends choose which they like best. Personally, I prefer the ambiance of the Anchor Bar and the wings of Duff's.

Smack dab in the middle of New York State (from Syracuse to Utica or thereabouts), on a good day, you can find a food truck from Charlie's Pizza in NY Mills called 'It's a Utica Thing'. If I see that truck, I am drawn to purchase and inhale Utica Greens (preferably on an open-faced steak sandwich but I'm flexible). If I don't see that truck when I'm home, I'll make the pilgrimage to Utica to get some good Utica greens!
 
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Maister

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I went there too. It was actually their 90th birthday the day that I went. I was in my hotel room watching the morning news before my conferences and they were broadcasting from the downtown location. I looked it up and saw it wasn't far from my hotel so I skipped the rubber chicken from the hotel meal and made a special trip over there for lunch.
I heard the place is always insanely busy. Like probably not worth the wait kind of busy.
 

WSU MUP Student

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I heard the place is always insanely busy. Like probably not worth the wait kind of busy.

That's what I was expecting, especially since I was going on a day that they were just on the morning news and hosting a bunch of special events but I walked right in and was able to order right away and get my food pretty quick. The outdoor/drive-in area was packed though. Once I got back to the conference I was talking to somebody else and they said they had tried to go for an early dinner the night before and it was lined up out the door and they had to wait about 45 minutes. I think I probably lucked out that I went in a little before the typical lunch crowd from Georgia Tech or the offices in the area.

Overall, the hot dogs weren't any better than what you can get at some of the coneys up here but the orange shake was pretty good.
 

Doohickie

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I've taken friends to Buffalo to eat at both Duff's and the Anchor Bar to let my friends choose which they like best. Personally, I prefer the ambiance of the Anchor Bar and the wings of Duff's.
I agree with that. There's a Duff's by my mom's house in West Seneca. Not sure if it's West Seneca or Orchard Park.
 

Gedunker

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I am considering whether to fly or drive to visit my brother and his family in Vermont this summer. If I drive, I would go a little out of my way on the way back to Hoosierville to score some NYC pizza, which I guess would qualify me as a gastronomic pilgrim. I might even stop in Jersey to see what's up with this Taylor Ham everybody carries on about. :smirk:
 

Big Owl

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I have to go down to Charlotte for a few days in May. It won't be a food-specific pilgrimage but now I want to go to Price's while I am there! When I was in Atlanta a couple years ago I made sure to go out of my way to check out Mary Mac's Tea Room. That's definitely right up there among the best fried chicken I've ever had.
Alledgelly, there are some folks that think that a gas station a couple blocks from Price's has better fried chicken. It's pretty good but I would say that it was better. Some locals refer to that gas station as the stab and grab. Needless to say Price's is located in a transitioning neighborhood. It's between two stops on the blue line so it's easy to get to from downtown.
 

Bubba

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That's what I was expecting, especially since I was going on a day that they were just on the morning news and hosting a bunch of special events but I walked right in and was able to order right away and get my food pretty quick. The outdoor/drive-in area was packed though. Once I got back to the conference I was talking to somebody else and they said they had tried to go for an early dinner the night before and it was lined up out the door and they had to wait about 45 minutes. I think I probably lucked out that I went in a little before the typical lunch crowd from Georgia Tech or the offices in the area.

Overall, the hot dogs weren't any better than what you can get at some of the coneys up here but the orange shake was pretty good.
The Varsity is a place you hit once so you can say you did it.
 

Dan

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You all know that Buffalo has more than its share of food tourists. Or, at least, those who have to stop at one of the city's iconic wing joints (Anchor Bar, Duff's, Gabriel's Gate, Bar Bill) when they're road-tripping on the 90. My advice - Duff's (the Sheridan Drive location) and Gabriel's Gate for wet wings are a must if you're in the area. Anchor Bar is a good reference dry wing. The place is quintessentially Buffalo, but a lot of neighborhood pizzerias serve up comparable wings at half the price

When I lived in Austin, I hit up most of the must-see barbecue joints in south central Texas -- Kreuz Market, Louie Mueller (a regular lunch stop), Smitty's Market, and Black's. Didn't get to Franklin BBQ, though.

My wife and I drove to Dogtown in Rochester. For hot dogs, of course.

Katz's Deli in NYC is a must.

I went to the Varsity in Atlanta about 30 years ago.

The Owl Bar in San Antonio, New Mexico is a nice pit stop if you're on the 25, but I don't think it's a must-see.

Many national chains that have saturated the market everywhere else in the country either avoid upstate New York, or skimp out on locations in the area. There's only a few Chick-Fil-A stores in the 90 corridor, and Shake Shack won't tarnish their hip image with locations in "hick" Upstate. They're special treats for us if we're in a city that has them. If we're heading south, we always stop at a Krispy Kreme in Scranton -- KK has no presence in UNY.
 

Doohickie

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and Shake Shack won't tarnish their hip image with locations in "hick" Upstate.
Fort Worth just got a Shake Shack. I haven't been there yet. Ironically they opened in the Stockyards district which is about as hick as you can get in this city.
 

luckless pedestrian

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when I would go to Syracuse to visit my parents, I did do food pligramages:

Brooklyn Pickle for a rueben
The Varsity for pizza and wings up at the university
Heid's for hot dogs and home made birch beer
Coleman's for Beef on a weck
 

ChairmanMeow

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Whenever driving by Aberdeen or Baltimore, MD I try to stop for Chap's Pit Beef. The Baltimore one has more character - it's in the parking lot of a strip club, but the Aberdeen store has nicer bathrooms.
 

Bubba

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I really don't head to out-of-town places just to hit a specific restaurant, but I will try to schedule my day when in certain cities (NYC, Chicago, etc.) around being in the vicinity of restaurants I want to try or revisit at meal times. I will go about 13 miles out of my way when headed down I-75 to my hometown in south Georgia to hit Yoder's Deitsch Haus Restaurant and Bakery for lunch on occasion if the timing is right, though.

Whenever driving by Aberdeen or Baltimore, MD I try to stop for Chap's Pit Beef. The Baltimore one has more character - it's in the parking lot of a strip club, but the Aberdeen store has nicer bathrooms.
I went through a phone interview for my previous gig while sitting in a rental car in the parking lot of a strip club...
 

WSU MUP Student

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Every year when we are in Florida we make a pilgrimage to the Duck Donuts location just south of Fort Myers but we may not need to this year. The first one in Michigan is opening up a couple miles from our house next week! We've been going out of our way to drive past over the past few weeks to see if they had set an opening date. It looks like Monday is the day!
 
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